Eagle County not yet able to join 5 Star certification program | VailDaily.com

Eagle County not yet able to join 5 Star certification program

County’s case rate needs to decrease significantly first

Staff members set up for in-person dining at Bagalis in Frisco for the night of Monday, Dec. 21. The restaurant was cleared to open for limited in-person dining under Summit County’s 5 Star Business Certification Program.
Taylor Sienkiewicz / tsienkiewicz@summitdaily.com

Eagle County is getting ready to join the state’s new 5 Star Business Certification program, but it’s going to take a while.

The Eagle County Commissioners this week talked about establishing a framework for the program, which allows participating businesses to basically drop a level from a county’s current status on the state’s COVID-19 dial.

Summit County as of this Monday had cleared 134 restaurants to open. Summit County is currently in the state’s red classification, which tightly restricts business occupancy. Restaurants there who meet the threshold of the 5 Star program can now operate at 25% of capacity, or 50 people, whichever is fewer. That’s in accordance with the state’s orange classification.

Participating businesses must meet standards including employee health, spacing tables at least 10 feet apart and improved indoor air circulation. Summit County has hired additional inspectors to ensure businesses comply.

When Eagle County is cleared to open, restaurants will be able to operate at the state’s yellow level, meaning increased occupancy.

But Eagle County Manager Jeff Shroll in an email wrote that it’s going to take “weeks” before the county can launch its own 5 Star program.

To participate, a county’s case count has to be below 350 per 100,000 population. The county only recently dropped under 800 cases per 100,000 population.

Assistant County Manager Kelley Collier wrote that until the case rate drops, county officials and staff will be working on how to apply for the state variance and launch the program quickly. That will include creating a local administrative committee that includes members from the business community and the county’s public health department.

The state’s 5 Star program is modeled after one that began in Mesa County. That program seems to be working well.

Businesses must apply individually, and meet program requirements. In Mesa County, businesses are visited regularly to see how they’re complying.

Businesses that aren’t complying can have their 5 Star certification revoked. In a recent story, Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Director Diane Schwenke said only a few businesses have had those certifications revoked. Businesses that have lost their approval have their names published in the local newspaper.

While Eagle County’s case rate remains too high to launch the program, work continues to create a program framework.

Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer, in an email, wrote that “We — Eagle County, the Vail Valley Partnership and the Basalt Chamber — are working diligently on our application.”

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